McLibel Trial News 3 Part 1

The Anarchives (
Sat, 17 Aug 1996 16:53:27 +0000 (GMT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 19:34:46 -0400
Subject: Trial News 3 Part 1
From: McLibel Support Campaign, London

September 1995 to July 1996
McLibel Support Campaign
c/o 5 Caledonian Road
London N1 9DX, UK.
Tel/Fax +44-171 713 1269

Part 1

Diet & Ill-Health
Marketing Strategy
Destruction Of Rainforests
'Policy' - What 'Policy'?
BRAZIL - Social & Environmental
COSTA RICA - Environmental
Beef Exports From Rainforest Countries
Brazilian Soya Feed Fed To EC Cattle,
Despite Tropical Forest Link


The McLibel Trial is a mammoth legal battle between the $30 billion a
year McDonald's Corporation and two London Greenpeace supporters (Helen
Steel & Dave Morris). The trial began in June 1994 and became the
longest civil case in British history in December 1995. It is expected
to last until the end of 1996. McDonald's are suing Steel & Morris for
alleged libel over a 6-sided Factsheet produced by London Greenpeace,
entitled "What's Wrong With McDonald's? - Everything they don't want you
to know", which McDonald's allege they distributed in 1989/90.

Approximately 180 witnesses from the UK and around the world have given
evidence on all the issues in the case, namely:
* The connection between multinational companies like McDonald's, cash
crops and starvation in the third world.
* The responsibility of corporations such as McDonald's for damage to
the environment, including destruction of rainforests.
* The wasteful and harmful effects of the mountains of packaging used by
McDonald's and other companies.
* McDonald's promotion and sale of food with a low fibre, high fat,
saturated fat, sodium and sugar content, and the links between a diet of
this type and the major degenerative diseases in western society,
including heart disease and cancer.
* McDonald's exploitation of children by its use of advertisements and
gimmicks to sell unhealthy products.
* The barbaric way that animals are reared and slaughtered to supply
products for McDonald's.
* The lousy conditions that workers in the catering industry are forced
to work under, and the low wages paid by McDonald's.
* McDonald's hostility towards trade unions.

What follows is a summary of some of the evidence from the trial given
between September 1995 and July 1996.

Diet & Ill-Health

As reported in Trial News 2, McDonald's were allowed to amend their claim
on diet and ill-health. The Defendants protested that the company have
used legal tricks to shift the goalposts after the strength of the
Defence case became clear. There have been constant legal arguments and
controversy about this section of the evidence throughout the case.
Because of this, the whole issue was re-opened and expert witnesses
called or re-called. Further evidence was given by Dr Arnott and
Professor Naismith for McDonald's, and by Professor Crawford and Geoffrey
Cannon for the Defence.

Professor Colin Campbell from the USA also gave evidence for the Defence.
He is the chair of Dietary Prevention of Cancer Worldwide, a highly
distinguished international committee of scientists set up to look into
and evaluate the links between diet and cancer. In his view, supported
by his own research work, "a high fat, low fibre diet is causal in the
development of a wide range of cancer and cardiovascular diseases".
Further, "even small additions of foods of animal origin to an otherwise
all plant diet causes the occurrence of these diseases". He agreed with
the World Health Organisation executive report which stated that "the
entire population of most affluent countries shows a high-risk profile".
But most importantly, he was convinced that these serious diseases are
largely preventable by dietary means.

The Defendants also called Jane Brophy, an NHS health promotion adviser
to health professionals. She referred to some of the literature which
health professionals are now expected to make available to the public
regarding the need for a healthy diet in order to avoid chronic diseases.
She concluded: "Most people in health education know that a typical
McDonald's meal does not comply with current healthy eating
recommendations and that is why their [McDonald's] literature states that
the two golden rules for healthy eating are 'variety' and 'moderation' -
vague terms which do not help the average person choose a health
promoting diet."

Marketing Strategy

Alistair Fairgrieve (McDonald's UK Marketing Services Manager) returned
to court to face cross-examination by the Defendants (see Trial News 1).
He stated that the company now had 650 million customer visits per year.
He said "the entire eating out market is in expansion", meaning that more
and more people are eating less meals at home.

According to McDonald's own figures from the USA, 77% of customer visits
to their stores (ie. 3 out of every 4 people) are from 'heavy users' who
eat at McDonald's an average of 3 times a week. Mr Fairgrieve agreed
that such customers were the ones most likely to also eat at other fast
food outlets - a major concern in this trial due to the links between a
junk food diet and ill-health. In the UK, company-sponsored research
showed that only 38% of the population (approx. 22 million people)
actually visited a McDonald's store in any year (contrary to the
impression given by McDonald's), and something between 2% and 4% of their
total UK customer base (ie. between half and one million people daily - a
substantial proportion of their visitors) ate at McDonald's 'several
times a week'. The Defendants believe this clearly shows that the
company is dependent on creating a 'loyal' clientele, which negates their
pretence to be advising their customers to 'balance' their diet.

Mr Fairgrieve was questioned about a survey carried out for McDonald's
which reported that "McDonald's staff were described as 'always frantic'
by 40% of customers". In a section summarising people's perceptions of
McDonald's, the food was described as "thought to be high in calories and
is not rated well as being healthy or made with natural ingredients".
The same survey revealed that "McDonald's is more likely to be chosen
than its competitors in response to kids pestering". Mr Fairgrieve said
that the company had known this for several years and added that "this is
broadly a positive from our perspective. It is the kind of thing you
just tick off as you go through. It is like 'Well, that is OK' "

Questioned about personal appearances of the Ronald McDonald clown, Mr
Fairgrieve stated "Quite simply, the idea of having a personal appearance
programme for Ronald McDonald is to bring the McDonald's experience as
seen in the advertising fully alive in the restaurant with a physical
realisation of the character and positioning we have in the advertising".

Mr Fairgrieve was also asked about a section in the McDonald's UK Annual
Review entitled "Growing up together". It stated: "McDonald's
involvement with schools in the past has been primarily through our local
restaurants. However our support for education took a major step forward
in 1993 with the creation of McDonald's education service".... "We view
every young person not only as a customer but as a possible employee,
manager, supplier or business leader in tomorrow's Britain". The Review
went on to talk about links between schools and businesses and gave an
example of Berkeley Infants School in Scunthorpe, "The school then based
its autumn term work on McDonald's. This included maths, history, music,
dance and language classes. Three McDonald's 'restaurants' were set up
and children as young as four started to develop and understanding of
business". Mr Fairgrieve said that this came under the umbrella of the
Public Relations Department.

McDonald's often offers to provide 'free' or cheap orange squash for
local events such as school fetes, supposedly as a community minded
gesture. The company 'Operations Manual' revealed the true purpose of
this "orange bowl programme". It stated: "It builds goodwill", "If your
orange bowl does not have a McDonald's logo and your restaurant address
you are losing the opportunity to market your store" and "Do not miss any
opportunity to publicise the donation of the orange bowl by McDonald's".
Mr Fairgrieve stated that the orange bowl programme "inherently creates
publicity... if you have 200 people at a local fete and they see
McDonald's helping at the local fete that is inherently publicity". The
Operations Manual went on to say "Much of what we do in our community
should be recognised. To increase the awareness of McDonald's community
activities the media is an important resource. Contact the media when
sponsoring school programmes, fund raising or other community events"

Destruction Of Rainforests

McDonald's has been enmeshed in controversy over its global promotion of
beef consumption. Despite the huge damage that cattle ranching has
unquestionably inflicted on tropical forests, the burger giant currently
spends $1.8 billion annually on advertising and promotions, and is the
world's largest user of beef. The Corporation has had to recognise such
damage as far back as in 1982, but has tried to fob off its critics with
claims that around the world they have never used any "meat from cattle
raised in former rainforests" (as stated in public announcements and
official private letters).

'Policy' - What 'Policy'?

Ray Cesca, the Director of Global Purchasing and Worldwide Trade of the
McDonald's Corporation, gave evidence that he had drafted McDonald's
rainforest Policy Statement. He said the policy (not to use "ex-
rainforest or recently deforested rainforest land") had taken 4-6 weeks
to write in 1989, although he claimed it had existed 'verbally' since the
company opened its first store in 1955(!). He said that " 'recently
deforested rainforest' means since we decided to open a restaurant in a
specific country" and agreed with Mr Rampton QC that "in theory, some
rainforest might be cut down a year or six months before [McDonald's]
made that decision, cattle put on it, and [McDonald's] could, in theory,
take cattle from that land". (NB. Previously the company has defined
'recently deforested' as "a significant number of years", "within 10
years" (prior to 1989) and "within 25 years" (since 1989).

Mr Cesca finally admitted that before 1989 there were "just discussions",
but he claimed the company had always cared about the environment,
asserting "we wouldn't do anything that is detrimental to the
environment, period". The Defendants asked how it was possible to run a
multinational company which produced masses of packaging and relied on
extensive cattle ranching, and fleets of lorries to transport goods, etc
without causing damage to the environment.

Brazil - Social & Environmental Damage

Sue Branford, a Brazil specialist and expert regarding the social and
economic forces impacting upon the Amazon region, testified for the
Defendants. She criticised the cattle ranching industry for causing
environmental damage, and for causing the violent displacement of small
farmers and indigenous peoples. In particular she had visited regions
which McDonald's have admitted as past or current sources of beef
supplies for their 200 Brazilian stores. For example, she described
areas of Mato Grosso (Sinop, Nova Xavantina, and Pontes e Lacerda), which
McDonald's admitted had supplied them in the past (1979 - 1982), as areas
she had witnessed being deforested for cattle ranches in the early

McDonald's current use of cleared Amazonian rainforest land - Further, Ms
Branford had visited areas in Goias State where McDonald's had admitted
to the Defendants (in a statement from Roberto Morganti, the Director of
McDonald's local hamburger manufacturers, Braslo Ltd) that they still
obtain their beef - especially along the River Araguaia (which flows
into the Amazon) and its tributaries. She had travelled extensively in
this vast region (including towns named by Mr Morganti such as Jucara,
Aruana, Britania, S. Miguel do Araguaia, Porangatu, Novo Mundo and Crixas
etc) and testified that in the early 1970s it was an area of Amazonian
tropical rainforest. Ms Branford had witnessed it being cleared and
burned for cattle ranching from the mid-1970s up to the mid-1980s (with
indigenous people being forced out). She said forest clearances
continue, but at a slower pace.

Sue Branford's evidence was fully corroborated by a written submission
from defence expert witness Professor Susanna Hecht (who has conducted
extensive field research in the relevant regions) who added: "I am
certain that a substantial proportion of cattle supplied to Cuiaba meat
plants (1979 - 82) and to Goias Carne [which still supplies beef for
McDonald's use] for the last 20 years up till now would have been cattle
from rainforest areas".

This evidence, based on McDonald's own information which the Defendants
finally forced the company to disclose after 3 years of legal
applications, completely nails once and for all the Corporation's lies
distributed to the public worldwide about never using any beef raised on
ex-rainforest or recently-cleared ex-rainforest land.

Brazilian Beef Exports to McDonald's UK - In addition, Lord Vestey,
Chairman of the Vestey Group Ltd (international meat export/import
business), had been subpoena'ed by Helen Steel to require him to give
evidence. The court had already heard much evidence about the import of
five consignments of Brazilian beef from the Vestey plant at Barretos,
Sao Paulo, for McDonald's UK stores in 1983/4 (see Trial News 2). Lord
Vestey had been asked in 1984 by David Walker of McKey Ltd (at that time
a subsidiary of McDonald's UK) to write a letter 'confirming' that the
beef was not "coming from reclaimed land from destroyed rainforests".
Lord Vestey delivered the requested letter in which he stated that the
cattle supplied to the meat plant were not from any rainforest region.
However, he admitted in the witness box that most of the cattle
slaughtered at the Barretos plant were from untraceable sources, having
previously been trucked into Sao Paulo State to be fattened up. He said:
"We kill 200,000 cattle a year...approximately 10%..are ours [from
company-owned ranches]." The rest "we have not any means of knowing
where they have come from". Professor Hecht later testified in response:
"In my opinion it is a certainty that a substantial proportion of such
cattle would have been those which had been raised in former rainforest

Further environmental and social problems of McDonald's supplies - The
court heard that McDonald's Brazilian stores have also been supplied with
beef from other regions where ranches have damaged the environment and
caused the eviction of peasant farmers and indigenous peoples.
Displacement of small farmers is recognised by McDonald's to be a major
cause of rainforest destruction as they have little alternative but to
move into the Amazon region to seek new land (by cutting the trees).

McDonald's told the court that their Brazilian stores (now numbering
approximately 200) have been exclusively supplied since 1982 by Braslo
Ltd using beef from slaughter houses (including those owned by Bordon,
Frimondelli, Mataboi and Goias Carne) supplied with cattle raised in
regions including Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo.
(Company documents suggested previous dealings with Anglo Beef Ltd, who
also had two plants within the official Amazon region).

Mr Cesca was questioned about land disputes in some of these states,
particularly Mato Grosso do Sul, where indigenous people and peasant
farmers have been evicted from their land to make way for cattle
ranching. He denied knowledge of any land disputes in these regions but
admitted that the company had not looked into this.

George Monbiot, a writer and academic who has researched Amazonian
issues, testified for the Defence about the social and environmental
destructiveness of cattle ranching in the regions supplying McDonald's
Brazil. Fiona Watson (Campaigns Co-ordinator for Survival International)
who has worked with and lobbied for indigenous peoples in Brazil,
testified about the devastation of indigenous communities and culture by
cattle ranching in areas of Mato Grosso do Sul which have been supplying
McDonald's beef. Dr James Ratter, a world authority on biodiversity in
Central and Amazonian Brazil, in a written submission for the Defence,
outlined the extensive and tragic damage to the highly diverse and
important Cerrado vegetation of Central Brazil. He stated: "The cerrado
biome has received a formidable agricultural onslaught and has been much
altered in the last 20 or so years." He estimated that about 800,000
square kms (40%) of the original cerrado area in Brazil has been

Costa Rica -
Environmental Damage

Giving evidence about Costa Rica, Mr Cesca said "McDonald's opened the
first of its restaurants in Costa Rica in December 1970" and that they
had been supplied with meat by Co-op Montecillos since that time. "This
meat comes from ranches in areas which were deforested in the 1950's and
early 1960's". There are about a dozen stores in Costa Rica.

Richard Rampton QC (for McDonald's) admitted on the first day of the
McLibel Trial: "In Costa Rica, when the first McDonald's restaurant was
opened in 1970, some of the land on which the beef was raised had been
rainforest up to the 1960's..", ie. destroyed less than 10 years before.

Mr Cesca was asked to disclose an official report (prepared for
McDonald's) about Costa Rica. It identified cattle ranching as the
principal cause of deforestation there. Other company documents revealed
that 20% of beef used in McDonald's stores in Costa Rica was raised in
the San Isidro region, an area which Mr Cesca accepted was originally
'wet and rain forest'. The other 80% came from Guanacaste and Peninsula
de Nicoya regions, both areas of tropical 'dry forest' deforested,
according to McDonald's Costa Rica chief, "in the '50s and early '60s".
Maps obtained by the Defendants showed deforestation continuing in these
regions up till the 1980's.

The Defendants further claimed that cattle ranching in these regions had
led to land disputes and displacement of subsistence farming families,
many of whom then had no alternative but to move into rainforest regions
in other areas of the country, contributing to further deforestation.

Expert witness Jean Carriere, a Costa Rica research specialist, testified
for the defence on the environmental damage caused by cattle ranching
(whether for export or for local use) in inappropriate and recently
deforested areas of the country, explaining that Costa Rican tropical
forest loss has been among the highest of any country in the world over
the last 20 years.

McDonald's Guatemala - Beef from Former Tropical Forest

The General Manager of McDonald's local supplier for their stores in
Guatemala (Procasa Ltd) admitted in his Statement that the beef supplied
to McDonald's is from regions "deforested in the 1940s and early 1950s".
Mr Cesca admitted these were tropical forests, but claimed they were not
'rainforests'. However, an internal company letter from McDonald's
Guatemala to Mr Cesca recognised that the region was formerly rainforest.
And confronted with a map drawn by conservation experts, Mr Cesca
conceded that the area seemed to be formerly rainforest.

Ronald Cummins, a Defence expert who has conducted substantial research
in Guatemala, stated that the country has serious problems of unequal
land ownership, poverty, oppression of indigenous people, deforestation
and rainforest destruction. In his view, these problems "are of course,
interrelated and made worse by the intervention of fast food giants such
as McDonald's in the [local] Guatemalan economy".

Beef Exports

At the start of the McLibel Trial, Richard Rampton QC (for McDonald's)
claimed that no beef had ever been exported to McDonald's anywhere in the
world from "rainforest countries".

Defence experts explained it was well established that Central American
beef exports since the 1960's, in particular to the USA for the fast food
industry, had caused the massive expansion of the cattle ranching
industry and consequent damage to tropical forests.

McDonald's claims it has a policy in the USA of only using 'US beef' or
'Domestic beef'. The Defendants called evidence from three experts who
have attacked the inadequacy of the US labelling system for imported beef
which re-categorises imported beef as 'domestic' once it has been
inspected at the port of entry. Mr Cesca denied this was the practice.
The Defendants produced a US Department of Agriculture directive
confirming their position, and also referred Mr Cesca to a letter from
OSI (one of McDonald's five suppliers in the US) which admitted that
there seemed to be some 'discrepancy' as to what constituted 'domestic'
beef'. Mr Cesca asserted that McDonald's policy ensured control over the
supply chain, but was prepared to accept the word of previous witness
Robert Beavers (of the McDonald's Corporation Board of Directors) who had
admitted that in the early/mid 1980's the company reduced its hamburger
patty suppliers from 175 down to 5 because of lack of effective controls
and an inability to 'police' their supply chain.

Mr Cesca admitted that McDonald's had never allowed any independent
verification or inspection of its beef sources, and had never lobbied the
authorities to improve the labelling system. The Defendants claimed
that, despite the environmental devastation caused, the Corporation
benefited from the way cheap, imported Central American beef helped to
keep US beef prices down.

Charles Secrett, currently Executive Director of Friends of the Earth and
the initiator of FoE's International Rainforest Campaign in 1985, gave
expert evidence for the Defence about the importance and character of all
tropical forests, and about efforts made to prevent their destruction.
He told the court that he had initiated negotiations with McDonald's UK
in November 1985 to see if the Corporation would co-operate in helping to
"clear up...persistent and institutionalised confusion over the [US beef]
certification process" in order to try to end the exports of Central
American beef to the USA. He told the court it was a "statistical
inevitability" that, whether knowingly or unknowingly, "during the 1970's
and much if not all of the 1980's, beef from cattle reared on recently
deforested tropical land in countries like Costa Rica was used by all the
major fast food retailers in the US, including McDonald's". However,
despite the company's claims of concern over the issue, McDonald's
suddenly and unilaterally ended the negotiations and threatened legal
action against anyone associating them with rainforest destruction. Mr
Secrett told the court that he had not been informed by McDonald's UK at
that time that the company had recently imported five consignments of
Brazilian beef.

Mr Secrett further stated that the "McDonald's Corporation, as a global
supplier of beef products to mass markets, must accept some
responsibility for encouraging development and land-use pressures that
result in the clearance of tropical forests."

Regarding Costa Rica beef exports, Sergio Quintana (the Sales Director of
Co-op Montecillos in the 1980's, McDonald's local beef supplier in Costa
Rica) was quoted by the Defendants from a filmed interview in 1983 (shown
in court): "We export meat to the US. 70% of the meat goes to food
production outlets such as restaurant chains like McDonald's..", and "We
supply McDonald's and Burger King, and Wendys - they buy our meat". Mr
Cesca denied this had ever happened, stating that the Corporation's "no
imported beef" policy in the USA prevented it. However, he had no qualms
about doing local business with Coop Montecillos, which he accepted was
the largest exporter of beef from Costa Rica to the US in the 1980's.
The Quintana interview had been filmed for the prize-winning TV
documentary Jungleburger (made by German film director Peter Heller,
shown in the UK by Channel 4 but then suppressed in this country after
McDonald's sued for libel).

Arturo Wolf (the Assistant General Manager of FOGASA, a meat processing
company which currently supplies beef patties for McDonald's stores in
Costa Rica) was called from that country to give evidence for McDonald's.
He had also been interviewed on camera for the Jungleburger film, shown
in court. Other key players in the beef industry in Costa Rica and the
USA were interviewed as well. Mr Wolf, who is from a Costa Rican
ranching family, was at the time of filming, a manager at a US meat
plant. He explained in the film that his plant imported beef from Costa
Rica for fast food chains. He stated that after the film was released,
he had talked to the others interviewed in the film and claimed they were
upset about how it portrayed their industry. The witness stated that
Alberto Amador Zamora, President of the Cattle Producers Federation, had
told Mr Wolf that he himself had refused to even talk to the film
director at the time. However, unbeknown to the witness, Mr Zamora had
been interviewed (although he didn't appear in the film) and furthermore
had implicated McDonald's in the export trade. The Defendants had
already lodged with the court a transcript of the uncut interview with
Zamora and the others, and also the signed legal authorisation forms
whereby each witness (including Mr Wolf) verified they had freely given
their true opinions for broadcast by film-maker Peter Heller. Mr Heller
testified for the Defence as to the accuracy of the quotes.
As well as the exports to McDonald's in the UK (see earlier), Brazilian
beef has also been exported for McDonald's use in Switzerland and
Argentina in the 1990's (admitted by Dr Gomez Gonzales, McDonald's
International Meat Purchasing Manager), and Uruguay (admitted by Mr

Defence expert Ronald Cummins concluded: "If McDonald's, Burger King and
other fast-food giants are sincere in wanting to preserve the environment
in general, and tropical rainforests in particular, they should
immediately call for: (1) A ban on beef imports into North America from
Central America; (2) A halt in the expansion of North American style
fast food restaurants into the third world; (3) The promotion of
sustainable, equitable, environmentally friendly agricultural policies
(both in the North and South); and (4) A change in the menus
(healthier, less beef and meat-centred, locally and sustainably produced
foods), advertising, marketing and purchasing practices of their own and
other multinational food corporations."

Brazilian Soya Feed Fed To EC Cattle, Despite Tropical Forest Link

Brazilian exports of soya products, including for cattle feed, are
controversial due to destruction of tropical forests for soya production,
and for dispossession of hundreds of thousands of subsistence farmers as
new soya plantations are established. McDonald's have accepted that
Germany in the 1980's was the main importer of Brazilian soya feed, most
of which went to feed cattle in Bavaria - the source of McDonald's German
beef supplies. (Statement of Dr Hans Schumm, McDonald's witness).
German beef has also been regularly supplied for McDonald's UK use (as
accepted by David Walker of McKeys).

Both George Monbiot and Professor Hecht gave evidence for the Defence on
this issue. Mr Cesca accepted that Germany in the 1980's was the main
importer of Brazilian soya feed, much of which was for cattle
consumption. Mr Cesca also accepted that at some times of the year
Brazilian soya feed 'swamped' the German feed market. He admitted that
McDonald's were the largest users of beef in Germany and that their beef
supplies would be 'typical' of the industry as a whole. The company had
previously stated that no cattle used for their burgers in Germany had
ever used any Brazilian soya feed.

--end of part 1--

U.S. McLibel Support Campaign Press Office
PO Box 62 Phone/Fax 802-586-9628
Craftsbury VT 05826-0062 Email
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